MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) highlights presentations at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)/American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Joint Session: Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer taking place today at the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. The special session will be co-chaired by ASCO’s outgoing president, George W. Sledge, M.D., and Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., joint-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discoveries in the field of telomere biology and telomerase, and a former Geron collaborator. The joint session will begin at 9:45 a.m. CDT, and a webcast will be available for conference registrants.
Presenting at the Joint Session will be Kathy D. Miller, M.D., Associate Professor and Sheila D. Ward Scholar at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center and lead investigator of Geron’s ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of the telomerase inhibitor drug, imetelstat, in patients with breast cancer. The presentation is titled “The Clinical Perspective: Where We Are Going with Telomeres and Telomerase”. Dr. Miller was also the lead investigator of Geron’s Phase 1 clinical trial of imetelstat in breast cancer and presented data from that study at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting.
“Today’s joint ASCO/AACR session once again highlights the importance of telomerase as a target for developing novel cancer therapies,” said Stephen M. Kelsey, M.D., Geron's Executive Vice President, Head of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer. “We are immensely pleased with the expert advice and enthusiasm shown by leading scientists and investigators, such as Kathy Miller, with whom we work to develop imetelstat, our telomerase inhibitor.”
Phase 2 Clinical Program for Imetelstat
Geron’s Phase 2 clinical program for imetelstat includes four clinical trials – two randomized clinical trials in non-small cell lung cancer and breast cancer, and two smaller single arm studies in multiple myeloma and essential thrombocythemia. These trials focus on malignancies in which cancer stem cells are believed to play an important role in disease progression and relapse after standard therapy. For further information about clinical trials using imetelstat, please visit www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=imetelstat.
About Imetelstat (GRN163L)
Imetelstat is a lipidated short chain oligonucleotide that binds with high affinity and specificity to the catalytic site of telomerase, resulting in competitive inhibition of enzyme activity. Proprietary manufacturing chemistry and the addition of a 5' lipid chain have enabled the molecule to penetrate cells and tissues throughout the body.
Imetelstat has demonstrated anti-tumor effects in a wide range of preclinical xenograft models of human solid and hematological tumors, and potent activity against cancer stem cells derived from primary patient samples or cancer cell lines from multiple tumor types.
Imetelstat has been tested in six Geron-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trials at 22 U.S. medical centers, treating over 180 patients examining the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug, alone or in combination with other standard therapies, in patients with different hematological and solid tumors. A Phase 2 clinical program was initiated in 2010.
Telomerase is a critical and broadly applicable tumor target. The enzyme is expressed in a wide range of malignant tumors, and its activity is essential for the indefinite replicative capacity of cancer that enables malignant cell growth. Telomerase is absent or expressed only transiently at low levels in most normal adult tissues. Telomerase has now also been shown to be a target for cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are rare populations of malignant cells with the capacity for endless self-renewal found in many types of cancer and are believed to be responsible for the growth, recurrence and metastasis of tumors. Their resistance to chemotherapy and conventional anti-cancer agents make them important targets for novel therapies.
Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases. The company is advancing anti-cancer therapies through multiple Phase 2 clinical trials in different cancers by targeting the enzyme telomerase and with a compound designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. The company is developing cell therapies from differentiated human embryonic stem cells for a range of indications, with the first product in a Phase 1 clinical trial for spinal cord injury. For more information, visit www.geron.com.
This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that statements in this press release regarding potential applications of Geron’s oncology and telomerase technologies constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and protection of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron’s periodic reports, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2011.
Anna Krassowska, Ph.D.
Investor and Media Relations
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INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Stem Cells Health Biotechnology Clinical Trials Oncology Pharmaceutical